Thursday, January 22, 2009
It is difficult to formulate meaningful competition policy when there is a fierce debate over the current competitiveness of the media industry. After addressing the importance of the marketplace of ideas in our democracy, our article examines the current state of the media industry, including the response of traditional media to audience declines, the growth of new media, the impact of media consolidation (including its impact on minority and women ownership), and the role of the Internet. In response to recent calls for liberalizing cross-ownership rules to protect traditional media, our article outlines why conventional antitrust policy is difficult to apply in media markets, and how the concerns underlying media mergers differ from other industries. Our article recommends that Congress should take the lead in formulating a national media policy. This new legislation should (1) promote, or at least not diminish, the media's contribution to the marketplace of ideas; (2) have antitrust merger policies complement FCC policy, which together should provide some of the necessary legal framework for a vibrant marketplace of ideas; and (3) understand from a 21st Century perspective, all of the values, including noneconomic values, such as localism and diversity, that are important to preserving a healthy marketplace of ideas.
Download the paper from SSRN here.